The prevailing debate among Cleveland football fans is the quarterback position and how it relates to this May’s NFL Draft.
Local sports talk shows have been discussing it since the end of the season, and the bad news is, there is still five weeks of draft talk to come.
Should the Browns take a passer with the fourth overall pick? If you don’t believe they should, then people think you believe the Browns don’t really need a QB, and they should settle for Brian Hoyer because he’s a hometown guy.
First, we feel Cleveland should draft a quarterback in 2014, but we don’t feel any of the passers coming out, including the “big three” of Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Blake Bortles, are worthy of the fourth selection.
We have said this before about all professional drafts. The idea of the draft is to make poor teams better, to upgrade their talent level.
Drafting a player who may be the 15th best talent in the selection process with the fourth pick is just stupid. And moving a player that many spots up the board because they play a certain position defeats the idea of the draft.
You are just pushing better players down to the better teams, which in turn makes them stronger.
Look at how this year’s playoff teams acquired their quarterbacks:
Denver-Peyton Manning: signed as free agent, although he was the first overall pick in 1998
New England-Tom Brady: most famous sixth round pick of all time
Cincinnati-Andy Dalton: second round pick
Indianapolis-Andrew Luck: first overall pick in 2012
Kansas City-Alex Smith: acquired in trade, but was the first overall pick in 2005
San Diego-Philip Rivers: fourth overall pick in 2004.
Seattle-Russell Wilson: third round pick in 2012
Carolina-Cam Newton: first overall pick in 2011Philadelphia-Nick Foles: third round pick in 2012
Green Bay-Aaron Rodgers: first round pick (22nd overall) in 2005
San Francisco-Colin Kaepernick: second round pick in 2011
New Orleans-Drew Brees: second round pick
So, out of the twelve playoff teams, five had their quarterbacks drafted in the first round, but two of those (Manning and Smith) are no longer with the teams that originally drafted them.
Three of the first round picks (Manning, Luck, and Newton) were all considered no-brainers for the first overall pick. They were highly decorated college players, and no one debated Rivers as a top ten selection either.
Smith was considered the best QB in a mediocre lot, and he’s already on his second team, but to be fair, he’s turned into an efficient player and he’s been a winner as of late.
Three more players were drafted in the second round, and one of those (Brees) is likely headed for the Hall of Fame, and Kaepernick has played in a Super Bowl and two other NFC Championship games.
While there are zealots who will tell you that Manziel, Bridgewater, and Bortles will become great NFL players, there are also scouts who have their doubts. That’s why you can’t take them at #4 if you are the Browns.
With that pick, GM Ray Farmer has to take a player who can start immediately and be an All-Pro in a couple of years, regardless of position.
Why not pick up Derek Carr or A.J. McCarron or Jimmy Garoppolo in the second or third round and develop them for a year or two behind Hoyer?
When the Browns had decent quarterback play last season, they won some football games. If Hoyer plays smart, and Cleveland has a solid running game, they should escape the 10 loss season streak.
They don’t need to play a high stakes game of poker. Besides, it’s not like quarterback is the only hole on the roster to fill. The team needs offensive line help, another wide receiver, linebackers, and secondary help.
Why not fill one of those spots with a player who has a higher floor.
Yes, the Cleveland Browns need a quarterback, but there is plenty of evidence that you don’t have to take one in the top five to win in the NFL.